The funeral beads from outer space

2013-08-20 11:00
(Dusan Vranic, AP)

(Dusan Vranic, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Paris – The earliest iron artefacts ever found - funeral beads strung around bodies in a 5 000-year-old Egyptian cemetery - were made from a meteorite, archaeologists said on Monday.

Hi-tech scanning of the beads, discovered by British archaeologists in the Lower Egypt village of el-Gerzeh in 1911, shows the metal came from a rock in outer space, they said.

The nine small beads come from two burial sites dated to around 3 200 BC, where they were found in necklaces along with exotic terrestrial minerals such as lapis lazuli, agate and gold.

They are stored at the University College London (UCL) Petrie Museum.

Meteorite iron is an alloy that has a different composition from terrestrial iron.

The scientists teased out a signature of the elements in the beads through a non-destructive ID test called prompt-gamma neutron activation analysis (PGAA).

Under this, a sample is bathed in low-energy beams of neutrons. Elements in the sample absorb some of the neutrons and emit gamma rays in response, the level of which provides the telltale.

The team found traces of nickel, phosphorus, cobalt and germanium that meant the source could only have been extraterrestrial.

X-ray scanners, meanwhile, showed that the meteorite iron had been repeatedly heated and hammered to make the precious jewels for the afterlife.

This shows that in the fourth millennium BC, the Egyptians were already advanced in the art in smithing, say the researchers.

Meteoritic iron is much harder and more brittle than copper, the commonly-worked material of the time.

“They were rolled and hammered into shape,” said Thilo Rehren, a UCL professor of archaeology.

“This is very different technology from the usual stone bead drilling, and shows quite an advanced understanding of how the metal smiths worked this rather difficult material.”

The study appears in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
 

Read more on:    france  |  archaeology
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Fashion
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Cape Town - 16:15 PM
    Road name: Wet Weather
    RAIN across the greater Cape Town area - drive with care and use headlights - Allow Extra Tavel Time
  • Friday Kuils River - 09:28 AM
    Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound
    ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - DELAYS
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia E6

Nokia E6 has 8-megapixel digital camera with autofocus and built...

From R2599.69

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The day may have a fluctuating sensitive energy to begin with, but later when the Moon moves into dramatic and creative Leo you...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.